The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) hosted the Republic of South Africa (RSA) early in the afternoon this Mother’s Day Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The match was played before 22,000 fans who came to give a proper send-off before the ladies hit the road for the Women’s World Cup in France.
The USWNT looked very versatile in this match, able to adjust formations with every substitute and find open spaces in a packed defensive half. RSA played extremely compact in an effort to thwart the U.S. attack and it worked in the first half. With only Amanda Mthandi sitting up high, the Banyana Banyana relied heavily on the counterattack since they were positioned so deep in defense.
The U.S. eventually pierced that RSA backline. Once in the defensive center, Sam Mewis found herself near the center of the 18 and sent a finessed shot past goalkeeper Andile Dlamini for the first goal of the match. Unfortunately for South Africa, Dlamini would eventually leave the game with a knock, leaving room for backup keeper Kaylin Swart to show her best.
Once substitutions were made in the second half (in friendlies you can make up to six), the U.S. stepped up the intensity. This is where we saw the likes of veterans you can depend on like Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Allie Long. Long’s addition to the Women’s World Cup roster drew ire from many but they clearly don’t know football. While her name hasn’t been cemented in the national team picture over the past few years, she’s been training hard. Our defense is not invincible and we’ll need vets this summer like Ali Krieger and Allie Long to fortify that backline.
Sam Mewis bagged her second goal in the 78th minute and Carli Lloyd followed suit with a goal in stoppage time. RSA substitute Kaylin Swart came up with some heroic saves in the second half to keep South Africa in the match, but the U.S. attack was just too much to handle.
With one match in the bag, the USWNT have two matches remaining in their Send-Off Series before they head to France for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The ladies will face New Zealand on Thursday, May 16, and take on Mexico on Sunday, May 26.
Photo: James Lyons